Obasanjo Mourns Shagari, Says He’s an Achiever

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Shehu Aliyu Shagari
  •  Buhari orders flags to fly at half mast
  •  Amosun, Ambode, Dickson, ACF, others mourn former president’s demise

Our Correspondents

As condolences continued to pour from around the country following Friday’s death of Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, state governors and other prominent Nigerians yesterday commiserated with the late leader’s family, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, and the people of the state in messages that eulogised Shagari’s virtues.

In a condolence letter released on Saturday in Abeokuta, Obasanjo described the former president as “a man of honour and an achiever”.

President Muhammadu Buhari last night in Abuja ordered that flags should fly at half-mast in military and para-military formations nationwide as well as public buildings for three days, starting from Saturday, to honour the memory of the former president.

Ogun State Governor Ibikunle
Amosun, in a statement saturday, called the late elder statesman an exceptional public officer. Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said Shagari was an exemplary leader, in a statement by his chief press secretary. Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson called Shagari a compassionate leader and a decent politician.
The governors of the 19 northern states described him as one of the best leaders the country ever had, saying, he “made the rare and bold choice of staying out of partisan politics in Nigeria, despite his immense popularity in the country.”

In his own condolence message yesterday, Senate President Bukola Saraki said Shagari “represented so many good pages in the history book of our dear country.” The statement said Saraki will on Monday lead a delegation to Sokoto to condole with Shagari’s family and the government and people of Sokoto State, on the demise of the first elected President of Nigeria.

Shagari died Friday night at the National Hospital, Abuja, after a brief illness. He was aged 93.
Obasanjo’s condolence letter, which was made available to newsmen in Abeokuta by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, eulogised Shagari’s role in the country’s pre and post-independence politics.

Obasanjo stated, “It is with a heavy heart that I am writing to say how deeply grieved I was to hear of the death of His Excellency, President Shehu Usman Shagari. On behalf of my family and on my own behalf, I wish to commiserate with you, the entire members of his family, and the good people of Sokoto State over the passing of this humble, patriotic, amiable and notable Nigerian leader.

“I would like to express my deep respect for the achievements of President Shehu Shagari in the course of his long life as one of the principal actors in Nigeria’s pre-independence and post-independence politics. He held various positions as a parliamentarian in the Federal House of Representatives, representing Sokoto West in 1954, as a Parliamentarian Secretary 1958-1959, as a Federal Minister and Commissioner in different ministries and capacities between 1959 and 1975. I remember his role as Commissioner for Finance while he and I served in the government of General Yakubu Gowon. He was thorough.

“And later, I saw him as my successor in government as a democratically-elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria between 1979 and 1983. Indeed, President Shagari rendered outstanding service to our country, and we will remember his services in that respect.

“President Shehu Shagari was a man of honour and an achiever. In all his national assignments, he was forthright, dedicated and showed great commitment in the discharge of his duties. He was a unifying force for the nation and his contribution to the growth and development of democracy in Nigeria cannot easily be forgotten. In all situations, he lived nobly and he died in nobility.

“Let us bear in mind that we all have the opportunity to act nobly in whatever position we find ourselves. President Shagari died at a time the country and its leadership is in dire need of such leadership, experience and wisdom to tackle the multifaceted challenges facing the nation.”

It would be recalled that Obasanjo, in 1979, handed over the reins of power to Shagari under a democratic process, thus, becoming the first Nigerian military Head of State to successfully do so.

Flags to Fly at Half Mast

A statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as ordering that flags should fly at half-mast as a mark of honour to Shagari’s memory. Adesina also quoted Buhari as saying, “The late president represented almost the last link with the government of our Founding Fathers under Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. He was also the first elected President of Nigeria.

“The late Alhaji Shagari was a man of many parts: teacher, local authority administrator, politician, minister, and finally President. He served his country with dedication and moderation.
“Over the years, through interaction at the Council of State, he and I came to understand and appreciate each other, whatever the differences we may have had in the past.”

Amosun: He was an Exceptional Public Officer

Amosun, in his condolence message, said Shagari “served our nation meritoriously and zealously. The deceased distinguished himself as a devoted public officer.”

Amosun added regarding Shagari, “Though his tenure was cut short by a military coup, it should be acknowledged, to his credit, that he bore no grudge over the subsequent challenges, but rose above them and continued to offer his service for the growth of the nation.”

Ambode: He was an Exemplary Leader

Commiserating with the Shagari family and the people of Sokoto, Ambode stated, “The late President lived an exemplary life; he was a democrat and a fine gentleman whose idea of power was that of being a tool to serve his fatherland and humanity. He was an elder statesman in the true sense of the word.
“He was also a detribalised Nigerian who was committed to the course of a united, indivisible and prosperous Nigeria. He believed so much in all inclusive governance and was one of those patriotic Nigerians who contributed in laying the foundation of a sustainable democracy in Nigeria.”

Dickson: He was a Compassionate, Decent Politician

In a statement by his special adviser on media relations, Mr Fidelis Soriwei, Dickson said Shagari passed on at a critical time when his vast experience and wise counsel were needed in the country.
“Our country will miss Alhaji Shehu Shagari dearly, as his passing came at such a critical time when his wise counsel, extensive historical knowledge and vast experience of the Nigerian polity would have served all of us,” Dickson added.

Northern Governors: He was One of Nigeria’s Best Statesmen

Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, in a statement on behalf of the other governors of the region, eulogised Shagari for choosing “to remain a statesman and a father of the nation and he maintained such a dignified position till he died in December, 2018, making it exactly 35 apolitical years.
“In all these years, he measured his words and actions as a peaceful and unifying leader. To cap it up, Shagari died in Abuja, the nation’s capital which symbolises our nationalism and unity.”
Shettima said, “Clearly, Shagari lived and died a nationalist and a true statesman.”

ACF: He Symbolised National Peace, Unity

A statement on Saturday in Kaduna by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim-Biu, said Shagari would be remembered for his humility and respect to democratic ideals.

“The late Turakin Sokoto not only engraved his name in the annals of Nigerian history as an elder statesman, but also as a symbol of peace, unity and selfless service to the North and, indeed, Nigeria, which has lost a great leader and a stabilising personality whose wisdom had greatly influenced the nation’s polity,” the statement said. “The best way to remember Alhaji Shehu Shagari is for those of us whom he has left behind to live up his legacies by way of promoting national ideals, moral values and respect for sacred core of inviolability of the individual.”

Meanwhile, Saraki said, in a release by his special adviser on media and publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, “At the most critical times in the life of the nation, Alhaji Shagari was there as part of the group directing the affairs. He was part of the people who won independence from the colonialists, proved that Nigerians could direct the affairs of their country, saved Nigeria from disintegration when the unity of the country was threatened, and was the pioneer elected President of Nigeria when the nation first experimented with the presidential system of government.
“Even in his retirement from politics, he silently worked for the unity and progress of Nigeria.”